Small business often ignore public sector tenders because of a perceived big company bias and the reams of red tape involved. But recent efforts to open up the procurement process to more SMEs means Oman-based entrepreneurs should consider securing a slice of the millions of Rials worth of contracts up for grabs.
In an effort to help local SMEs learn more about the tendering process, Origin Oman, the buy local campaign spearheaded by the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE), will hold two free-of-charge seminars on Winning Public Sector Business 25 February and 4 March at the Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel.
Much of the perceptions about dealing with the public sector are true. It has on occasions been difficult to find out which tenders have been released and with small business owners already having to cope with huge amounts of form filling, the prospect of dealing with further paperwork which can be rejected because of a simple mistake can be off putting. “Representatives from the Tender Board as well as the private sector will be presenting at the two workshops, this will give small businesses a real opportunity to get an insight into how the tender process works. We’ve already received a number of companies register, particularly from the manufacturing sector,” comments Ibtisam Al Faruji, PEIE’s Head of Marketing.
But with efforts to encourage local SMEs to enjoy a share of the money spent every year by government on procuring goods and services, Oman-based entrepreneurs should not shun the idea. “Yes, the process can be time consuming and bureaucratic but if you're prepared to do your research and establish a good relationship with the public sector, your company could reap huge benefits,” says Al Faruji.
Indeed, by achieving greater involvement of local SMEs in the government market place there will be wider benefits to Oman’s economy thereby promoting competition and innovation in government procurement.
Once a firm has established ties with a public organization, the chances of securing further contracts will rise dramatically. “Like their private sector counterparts, many government organizations prefer to work with suppliers they've dealt with before so if you've proved yourself you'll likely be able to get another slice of the pie,” suggests PEIE’s Head of Marketing.
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